Leah Cecil

Miss America hopeful, on her unusual choice of instrument

The Garden Grove native and recent Cal State Fullerton grad hopes to add to her tiara collection at the Miss America pageant Jan. 12 in Las Vegas. Cecil, the sole classical harpist in a contest filled with dozens of pianists and singers, grew up playing the violin and piano, but loves her 85-pound harp. “I get a workout lifting it in and out of my Astro van,” she says. Cecil performs at hospitals, senior centers, weddings, and frequently at the Anaheim White House restaurant. Worst venues? “Those with no elevator.” She has another talent that pageant judges probably won’t hear: She can rap all 43 U.S. presidents in chronological order.

by Kelly Olejnik / photography by Priscilla Iezzi

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Orange Coast magazine.

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